Many states have specific domestic violence statutes that provide for criminal penalties. However, Texas includes elements of domestic violence in some of its general criminal offenses that often involve family or household members.
Some states have established a separate criminal offense of domestic violence, but Texas has simply included elements of domestic violence within some criminal offenses that commonly involve family or household members. In order to qualify as family or household members, individuals must have one of the following relationships:
· Live together in the same residence
· Share a child, whether living together or not
· Be in a dating relationship or previously dating
· Spouses or former spouses
· Family members
The involvement of a family or household member in a criminal offense can make the penalties for the offense more severe. For instance, under Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01, the general crime of assault is a Class A misdemeanor. Assault involving a family or household member, however, can become a third degree or even second degree felony in some situations, such as if the individual has a prior conviction or if the assault involves certain types of actions, such choking or strangling.
Another offense under Texas law that involves domestic violence is found in </uTex. Pen. Code § 25.11. This statute establishes the offense of continuous violence against the family, a third degree felony. In order to be guilty of this offense, a person must have committed an assault against a family or household member two or more times during a 12-month period. This is a separate charge from any underlying assault charge.
Additionally, it is a criminal offense to violate a protective order that is issued in a domestic violence situation. In many cases, if a person is accused of assaulting or committing another criminal offense against a family or household member, or if the family or household member files a petition for protective order, the court will issue what amounts to a no-contact order between the accused person and the alleged victim. If a person violates the terms of a protective order, he or she commits a Class A misdemeanor. However, the charge can increase to a third degree felony in some situations.
The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including domestic violence offenses. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.